Gray Matter (short story)

Gray Matter (short story)

Infobox short story |
name = Gray Matter
author = Stephen King
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Horror, science fiction
published_in = "Cavalier" (1st release),
"Night Shift",
"Arbour House Necropolis"
publication_type = Magazine
publisher =
media_type = Print
pub_date = October 1973
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"Gray Matter" is a short story by Stephen King, published in 1978 in the compilation "Night Shift".

It was first published in "Cavalier" in October 1973. It also appeared in "Arbour House Necropolis" in 1982. It is set in the same area as King's novel "Dreamcatcher".


Gray Matter takes place in an American town, and also in a convenience store and an apartment building.

Plot summary

The story, told from the perspective of an older "local" man, begins as he is sitting around at a convenience store with a group of his friends during a heavy snowstorm. A young boy runs in, deathly afraid. The men recognize him as the son of Richie Grenadine, a local man who was injured some time ago in a work accident, and was given lifetime worker's compensation. With no need to support himself, Richie became a recluse, rarely seen outside the confines of his apartment except to purchase the cheapest of beer, although lately, he had been sending his son out to purchase his beer for him.

After speaking privately with Richie's boy, the owner (Henry) and a few other regulars decide to take the beer to Richie personally. On their way, Henry relates some of the terrifying experiences the kid had told him — of how one day his father drank a "bad" can of beer and since has been slowly transforming into an inhuman blob-like abomination that detests light and craves warm beer. Spying on him one night, the boy saw his father eat a dead cat, causing him to finally seek help.

Arriving at Richie's home, the men confront him from behind his closed door, demanding that he come out and show himself. The odor pouring out from behind the door convinces the group that Richie was eating more than dead cats, speculating that he may be responsible for a recent rash of missing people, as well.

The men are horrified when Richie opens the door, and shambles out. No longer resembling anything human, Richie is more fungus than man. Worse yet, he appears to be in the process of "dividing". The rest of the men run off, as Henry stands his ground, firing his pistol at the creature.

The story ends with the narrator calculating the exponential growth the creature is capable of, as they sit at the convenience store, waiting to find out who survived, Henry or the creature.

External links

* [ Story at]
* [ King's official site]

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